With a few exceptions, most foreign nationals require an entry permit to enter the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and an employment visa to work in the UAE. UAE also typically requires a sponsor for employment and long-term residency visas.
Citizens from the Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—which includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Oman—are not required to have an entry permit, visa, or sponsorship. Foreign national from certain countries can get an entry permit on arrival for 14, 30, or 90 days, depending on the foreign national’s home country. It’s important to note, though, that it is illegal to work with or without pay in the UAE on a visit or tourist visa. Certain business related activity—such as attending meetings and interviews, conducting negotiations, signing deals and contracts, performing site visits—is allowed on a visit or tourist visa, as long as no “hands-on” work is done.
For longer term employment within the UAE, the foreign national employee must first apply for and secure a work permit, which involves the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiritisation (MoHRE) and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) for the emirate where the foreign national will be employed. After that, an employment visa and sponsorship must be secured.
Processing times can very based on the time of year and type of visa, so make sure your company factors processing time into the timeline for sending a foreign national to work in UAE. There are a variety of UAE visas and entry permits, but we’ve listed the main categories below.
The process and requirements can vary by type of visa or permit. For help figuring out whether a permit or visa is needed for your company to send employees to UAE, click below to download our UAE Information Sheet or click here to set up a consultation
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